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Sulfonylureas and their use in clinical practice.

Many anti-diabetic drugs with different mechanisms of action are now available for treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Sulfonylureas have been extensively used for treatment of type 2 diabetes for nearly 50 years and, even in our times, are widely used for treatment of this devastating chronic illness. Here, we review some of the available data on sulfonylureas, evaluating their mechanism of action and their effects on glycemic control. We can conclude that sulfonylureas are still the most used anti-diabetic agents: maybe this is due to their lower cost, to the possibility of mono-dosing and to the presence of an association with metformin in the same tablet. However, sulfonylureas, especially the older ones, are linked to a greater prevalence of hypoglycemia, and cardiovascular risk; newer prolonged-release preparations of sulfonylureas are undoubtedly safer, mainly due to reducing hypoglycemia, and for this reason should be preferred.

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